Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand oneself and others. A person is emotionally intelligent when they demonstrate the capacity to identify their own emotions, regulate them and make responsible choices accordingly. It also includes the awareness of different perspectives and the maintenance of healthy relationships with others.
Emotional intelligence can be more easily understood by exploring its five components:
- Self-Awareness: the understanding of one’s emotions, thoughts and intentions. One is self-aware when they can pinpoint what they are feeling and why.
- Self-Regulation: the capacity to manage one’s behavior in various environments. One is managing themselves well when they avoid being overtaken by emotion and making poor choices.
- Empathy: the ability to value and understand the experiences of another. One is empathetic when they can appreciate the perspective of others, even when they differ from one’s own.
- Decision-making: the capacity to identify and make responsible choices. Good decision-making involves taking action while understanding and accepting the outcome.
- Social Skills: the means required to build and maintain healthy connections with others. One is socially apt when they have the understanding of what it takes to create bonds with others and preserve them.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?
As humans, social connectivity is directly correlated to experiencing the fullness of life. Developing one’s emotional intelligence allows for them to become a better friend, partner, parent or leader. Emotional intelligence also allows individuals to mediate conflict (both internally and externally), regulate anxiety, reduce stress and generally improve one’s quality of life.
When an individual embodies emotionally intelligent behaviors, others feel safe, understood and connected to them. Building a deeply understanding foundation with others allows for incredibly strong and stable connections to follow.
While the capacity to understand and be sensitive to what others experience is valuable, the ability to weather your own emotions is equally necessary. One can only understand others at the depth of which they have understood themselves.
How to increase Emotional Intelligence?
Taking the time to evaluate and acknowledge the emotions one is experiencing helps to build self-awareness and understanding. Are you stressed? What is the cause of it? Where are you experiencing this in your body? These simple asks are helpful when combatting stressors and taking better care of one’s mental and physical health.
Pay close attention to reactivity with oneself and their surroundings. How do you respond to conflict? Do you manage your emotions well in stressful situations? Do you consider others before taking action? These cues are helpful in assessing the empathy and decision-making one is exhibiting.
Asking for an objective opinion can be helpful in identifying one’s weaknesses in relation to emotional intelligence. Seeking evaluation from peers, family or coworkers is incredibly helpful in finding places to work on weaknesses that may not be obvious to the individual on their own.
Assessing one’s emotional intelligence and trying to improve it simultaneously can feel like a daunting task. There are helpful tools and games that can take the weight off of approaching the development of emotional intelligence. Chat Chains is an emotional learning game that is full of conversation starters of varying difficulty. Playing this game with those around you allows for emotionally vulnerable dialogue that could otherwise be difficult to initiate in a different setting. Games such as this one are helpful in further developing relationships with others, comfortability in identifying one’s own emotions and communicating them.
Harvard Professional Development. (2019, August 26). How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence.https://blog.dce.harvard.edu/professional-development/how-improve-your-emotional-intelligence
Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ). (2020, October). Help Guide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/emotional-intelligence-eq.htm